A couple may decide to separate and end their relationship. In this case, they will need to make important decisions on matters including:
- Which spouse will stay in the house
- Decisions concerning where their children will live and who will care for them
- Deciding which spouse will take care of all decisions about the child
- All financial support matters including child and spousal support
- Division of property and all other marital assets
Is separation agreement the same for married couples and common law couples?
Division of property is one area where Canadian Law has different rules for married couples and common law couples who separate.
For matters like child custody, access, spousal support and child support, the law treats married and common law couples equally.
The essential steps to be taken once a couple decides to separate?
Once you have decided to separate, you should separate your finances and take the below steps:
- Open an individual bank account in your name for all income, social and child care benefits you receive
- List all your incomes, assets and debts – including TFSAs, RRSPs, chequing accounts, savings accounts, insurance policies, vehicles, jewelry, all other valuables, mortgage, line of credits, credit cards with their amount owing
- Keep a copy of all financial documents with themselves including pay stubs of yourself and your partner, statements of bank accounts, RRSPs, car, auto and health insurance policies, tax returns, business tax returns, ownership documents of car, home, mortgage documents, credit card statements and all bills for water, hydro, internet
Make a budget
Prepare a detailed budget for you and your children listing the income and the necessary expenses for the month
Confirm date of separation
It is important to identify the date of separation as it has legal implications for certain issues including:
- Divorce application – a couple can apply for divorce only if they have been separated for more than one year
- Division of Property – married couples have a right to share in the property only for the duration of the relationship. The spouse’s entitlement for the share ends once the couple separates unless the property is owned jointly.
It may happen that you both may not be sure of the date of separation. Or you and your partner may not agree on the date you separated.
For any confusion in identifying the date of separation, the couples need to look at when they started living apart from each other, separated their finances, started doing things on their own.
Mutually Decide on Issues
Spouses need to make decisions on issues in their relationship including:
- Decisions regarding with whom the children will live, their education and all child support matters
- Decide on the parenting plan for the children
- Decide on assets and debts
- Decide who will stay in the matrimonial home – married couples have an equal right to stay in the matrimonial home which is not present in the case of common law couples
- Spousal support -who will pay, its duration and its amount for one spouse
- Whether or not to go for divorce and which spouse will apply for it
- One spouse may make a safety plan for themselves and the children if the other spouse has been abusive
Can a separation agreement be enforceable in court?
A separation agreement can be enforced by courts only if it abides by specific rules including:
- Both spouses need to understand the agreement completely.
- Both spouses need to do a full disclosure of their income, assets and liabilities
- It should be signed by both the spouses
- The agreement should not be unfair on either spouse
In case the above rules are not followed, the court has the right to set aside the separation agreement.
How We Can Help
At Nanda & Associate Lawyers, our excellent Family Law lawyers help in making effective representation for separation agreements. They understand your specific circumstances and provide tailored and customized solutions for each of them. Many legal complexities exist in drafting separation agreements, and an experienced family law lawyer can help you to navigate better.
Our Mississauga Family Law Lawyers are available for a no-obligation free consultation. Come and experience our quality legal counsel and personalized care we give to each client.